“I have high blood pressure.” – said 29% of Americans, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). That’s 1 in every 3 American adults.
High blood pressure is commonly known as the “silent killer” because there are usually no signs or symptoms and having high blood pressure puts you at risk for heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease and peripheral artery disease.
But let’s start from the beginning… What is blood pressure?
You may have heard your blood pressure should be on average “120/80”. …but what do those numbers even mean? And is there a way to lower your blood pressure without popping another pill?
Let’s talk numbers first:
When the heart’s left ventricle contracts, it generates enough force to pump blood through your aorta (the body’s largest artery) out to your entire body. Systolic blood pressure, the top number, is the measurement of the pressure within the arteries when the heart contracts. On average, this number should be less than 120 mm Hg.
When the aortic valve closes at the end of left ventricle contraction the heart begins to fill with more blood. This is considered the diastolic, or relaxation phase, of the cardiac cycle. Pressure still exists within the arteries since blood continues to flow throughout the body. Diastolic blood pressure is a measure of the resistance of blood flow through blood vessels. If there is a lot of plaque or fatty deposit buildups within your arterial walls (known as atherosclerosis), this will increase the resistance within the blood vessels and therefore, increase your blood pressure. A normal, healthy diastolic reading should be less than 80 mm Hg.
What can I do to control my blood pressure?
Blood pressure is highly controlled by the choices we all make daily,
or rather, our lifestyles.
A frequent response to high blood pressure is being put on medication, however, without a change in lifestyle, the medication can eventually lose its effectiveness and a higher dose of medication is required*.
*Medication is not the only way to control your blood pressure. Studies have shown that by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly (including moving throughout the day), you are your best weapon to preventing and fighting high blood pressure.
Move more = stronger heart = preventing high blood pressure = healthier life.
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